Advice for ASEE

Moderator: I’m going to apologize to the people who are waiting to ask questions. I think we’re really getting too close to the end of the session to entertain any more questions. You’ve been standing there quite a while. I’m sorry, but we do need to get to our final question and we do need to end on time, so let me go to that final question again.

Panel, we want to give ASEE some advice on the year of dialogue. Rather than telling them what they should be doing perhaps we should tell them what outcomes they should be looking for after the next 12 months. So what advice, Elaine, we’ll start with you, would you give to the ASEE group as it initiates its year of dialogue, on outcomes?

Elaine Seymour: Bearing in mind that people are going to move past a spectrum of change. It’s not an all or nothing thing. People have a range of things which they are enabled to do given the circumstances of their departments and the culture and readiness of those departments to encourage them or not. I would like to see an encouragement of dialogue in every possible way, of possibilities for people to learn, to be professionally developed, colleaguely by each other through workshops and the building and supporting of networks.

The best money you can spend is on money to get people together and to feed them and to house them while they talk.

Moderator: There are what, a dozen sections of ASEE and perhaps you are suggesting that dialogues in each of those sections might be an appropriate thing to do, take note on. Juan?

Juan Rivera: I would say that perhaps ASEE can encourage presidents and provosts of the universities and the academic institutions to make this a priority. I believe that if the leadership does not embrace these topics and these problems that the individuals that implement these changes will not have their whole heart set into these tasks and they will not make them a priority.

Moderator: So these presidents and provosts should also participate in the dialogues that Elaine has suggested.

Juan Rivera: Absolutely.

Moderator: OK. Thank you. David?

David Radcliffe: I think it carries two things, or two outcomes. One would be, gather together models of systems that work in the area of rewards for faculty or other ways to have dialogue and to open up conversations within schools. It might be through deans. It might be through regional meetings. By the end of the year you’ve got a whole lot of models that work and lessons learned from models that didn’t work. They are often the best ones.

My second thing I’ll point to, and don’t take this as a criticism the wrong way, but many of the papers in this conference tend to be more of the “show and tell” and as the papers in this conference increasingly become more reflexive, more referring to the literature, we’ll see that scholar-teacher thing reflected. There’s a lot already, but I think that can move forward, so that would be my other measure of gain.

Moderator: Thank you David. OK, Jeremy?

Jeremy Noonan: I would say it is promulgating standards for what constitutes good education scholarship and educating the community about that.

Moderator: Good suggestion. Gary?

Gary Gabriele: Yes. What I was thinking was at a different level. One of the things I’ve discovered in the last two years I’ve been in Washington is “What is the voice for engineering?” Is there a single voice for engineering out there and I don’t know that there is. I think there’s an opportunity for ASEE to think about that as an outcome, as a vision for where they should head. Become the voice for engineering.

Jim Pellegrino: I’m the, sort of, learning sciences interloper here, so I’m going to come at this at a slightly different angle. I would hope that by the end of this year of dialogue what ASEE could do is promote a clear agenda that defines what are the key issues and questions in teaching and learning in engineering.

In particular I think that what the field continues to struggle with: it needs to define the fields of competence and expertise and what it is that you are trying to get people to be and what the key questions are. The other thing is I think you really need to promote a dialogue about what are the epistemologies about teaching and learning that exist within engineering so that we can begin to get a clearer sense of where people are coming from and how they are approaching the engineering education enterprise right now.

Moderator: Sheri?

Sheri Sheppard: I’m going to take a marketing stand on this. There are a little less than 30,000 engineering faculty in the United States, and probably more if you add in engineering technology faculty. There are roughly 350 engineering schools. So maybe at the end of this year of dialogue each of those communities, and I would say administrators, see that there’s something to this in terms of competitive advantage for their institution in terms of the quality of graduates, and the diversity of their graduates. Each faculty member would have a sense of, “This research actually matters in what I’m going to do in my next class. It can affect how I interact with students.” And, a cadre of zealots, if you will, saying, “How does this fit into my portfolio work that I engage in as a faculty member?” so 30,000 folks.

Moderator: Great suggestion. Norman?

Norman Fortenberry: I live and work in Washington D.C. so I’m going to answer in that context. What I’d like to see at the end of the year of dialogue is an understanding in the public mind that just as research is the base for industrial innovation, research can be the basis for educational innovation and that both are required for global competitiveness. In that vein, then, I’d like to see a lot more dollars devoted to investments to strengthen educational research.

Moderator: Thank you. All good suggestions. Just to show you that we’re already making progress in this area, Sheri Sheppard is listed in your program as Associate Professor of Engineering at Stanford. Mainly due to her prominence in engineering education, she’s recently been promoted to full professor of civil engineering. Congratulations.

Sheri Sheppard: One slight footnote: it takes a community to build a faculty member. Thank you to many of you.

Moderator: I said earlier when I started that we didn’t have enough time to cover all the issues in sufficient depth to please everybody, and I’m sure we’ve accomplished that unfortunate goal. But this is just the beginning. It’s the first day of a year of dialogue and I encourage you to go back to your own community, whether that’s industry, government or academia and begin dialogues there and then participate in the ASEE year of dialogue by filling out the participation card, or contacting J.P. Mohsen at the University of Louisville.

This looks easy to do up here, folks, but these eight panel members were absolutely terrified this morning about what was going to happen. I did not give them any of the questions that I promised that I would give them, so they were really doing this very unrehearsed. I really would appreciate you giving them a real good round of applause.


Ronald Barr: Panel members, we have a small gift of appreciation from ASEE. Thank you very much for a very engaging presentation this morning. Thank you for attending this conference. I hope you enjoy the rest of the meeting. Thank you.

Moderator: Thank you for coming.

Leave a Reply